Russia Monitor is a review of the most important events related to Russian internal and external security, as well as its foreign policies.
Date: 28 December 2021
Russia Sends “Governor” To Minsk
Moscow is replacing its incumbent ambassador to Belarus who has been in office for just a few months. A new candidate will be tasked with ensuring that the Kremlin consolidates its grip on the regime in Belarus. A new Russian ambassador to Minsk is an experienced official and a longtime ally of Vladimir Putin.
Yevgeny Lukyanov, in office since March 2021, is the incumbent ambassador. However, on December 22, the State Duma Committee for the affairs of the CIS, Eurasian integration and relations with compatriots endorsed Boris Gryzlov’s nomination as Russian ambassador to Belarus. Gryzlov now remains chairman of the Supreme Council of the United Russia party. He was Interior Minister from 2001 to 2003 and Speaker of the State Duma (the lower house of parliament) from 2003 to 2011. In 2005–2007 he was Chairman of the United Russia party. He is also one of the leaders of the largest Russian political party. Since December 2015, Gryzlov has served as Russia’s envoy to the contact group on Donbas. A top Russian official in the embassy in Minsk might indicate that integration roadmaps for Belarus and Russia will speed up while Gryzlov will become a partner in talks with Lukashenko. Some claim he will serve as a Russian governor in charge of overseeing these roadmaps to make sure Lukashenko is fulfilling its obligations toward the Kremlin. Many signs are that Moscow is seeking to soon dispatch more personnel and weapons to Belarus. According to some declarations, Russia would deploy its nukes, possibly short-range tactical weapons. It is because of Moscow’s pressure on the North Atlantic Alliance. If the West fails to comply with most of the Kremlin’s demands, Putin may deploy troops and military hardware to Belarus. On December 29, Lukashenko and Putin will take part in an informal summit of the CIS leaders in St. Petersburg. On December 25, the two men discussed defense cooperation in a phone call. Perhaps after the December 29 meeting, Belarus and Russia will announce some new arrangements on Russian military presence in Belarus.
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